In what could be a bad sign for the direction that major ski resorts are heading in to mitigate crowds, some large ski areas in the Powdr brand will be introducing a Fast Tracks pass to skip the lines during peak periods on the most popular lifts. The participating resorts will be at least Snowbird in Utah, Killington Resort in Vermont, Mt. Bachelor in Oregon, and Copper Mountain in Colorado. Snowbirds Fast Tracks offering will begin at $69 a day. Copper Mountain ran the Fast Tracks program in prior seasons but didn’t include it in its operations last winter due to the pandemic. It draws inspiration from the soon-to-be discontinued Fast Pass that is used at Disney theme parks. The system will not exist on all lifts, just the most popular ones on the mountain. Rather than going the route of capacity limits that mountains like Magic Mountain and Arapahoe Basin, these resorts are going all-in on the crowds, and presenting a pay-to-play option for the more affluent individuals at the mountain. The Wall Street Journal revealed the following about the plan over the weekend.
“Resort operator Powdr is launching dedicated fast-access lanes at four of its mountain resorts this season: Copper Mountain in Colorado, Killington in Vermont, Mt. Bachelor in Oregon, and Snowbird in Utah. To access the lanes, which will be located at the most popular lifts at each mountain resort, guests will need to purchase a daily Fast Tracks pass. They will start at $49 a day, but have dynamic pricing based on the mountain, peak periods, holidays, and day of the week, and go on sale Nov. 1.”
This is… bad. I love these mountains, and so does everyone that shreds there as well. But, in a period where people are going out of their way to shred more than ever, the major resorts are once again catering to the rich? I don’t think this will reduce crowds and waiting, and it might make more people want to go up and shred if they want to pay up and avoid the crowds. On the other hand, I think many ski resorts are underestimating the crowds that they will face this season with likely limited staffing. Having a method to manage the crowds will help somewhat, though it will be less effective than limiting ticket sales or setting up a reservation system. I just hope to not see this happen at other resorts.